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  • [Chat] Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

    We've had the discussion before: Many Disneyland guests today do not realize that one of the founding, governing tenets of Disneyland was that it was not only a place to entertain, it was a place to educate.

    Many folks today simply refuse to accept this. Their desire to grab a churro and head over to Splash Mountain before camping out to wait for Fantasmic! has blinded them to one of Disneyland's founding principles--and, I believe--one of the elements that made the Park once-great.

    "Disneyland is about the rides, man!" they say. "No one goes to the Park to be educated. That's what museums are for!"

    I offer a few quotes in rebuttal:

    The idea of Disneyland is a simple one. It will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge.

    It will be a place for parents and children to share pleasant times in each other’s company; a place for teachers and pupils to discover greater ways of understanding and education. Here the older generation can recapture the nostalgia of days gone by, and the younger generation can savor the challenge of the future. Here will be the wonders of Nature and Man for all to see and understand.

    Disneyland will be based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America. And it will be uniquely qualified to dramatize these dreams and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world.

    Disneyland will be something of a fair, an exhibition, a playground, a community center, a museum of living facts, and a showplace of beauty and magic.

    It will be filled with the accomplishments, the joys and hopes of the world we live in. And it will remind us and show us how to make those wonders part of our own lives.
    Emphasis added.

    This is from the six-page document used to sell Disneyland to the “New York Bankers." Part of the documentation responsible for the park’s very existence.

    Now...how about this? This is from the introduction to the Stanford Research Institue Report. As many know, Stanford Research Institute was hired by Disney to determine the best location for the Park:

    Walt Disney Productions is planning the development of an extensive recreational and educational enterprise to be known as Disneyland. It is the desire of the Disneyland management to provide a wide variety of entertainment activities and exhibits, designed and constructed to afford maximum pleasure and comfort for the people who will (visit) the facility.
    Again, there seems to have been a very strong educational component associated with the Park. In fact, in the quote above, it is presented equally with the word "recreational" to describe the "enterprise."

    And Walt himself also spoke directly about the Park being educational--and how that's part of what it magical:

    "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning, together with every variety of recreation and fun designed to appeal to everyone."
    Sadly, much of the educational aspects of the Park have been stripped away (or, in some cases, distorted beyond recognition). But there is still much to learn at the Park.

    So...what have you learned about the world you live in at the Park? What have you learned about history, or technology, or art or culture or nature or science while at Disneyland?
    Last edited by Steve DeGaetano; 09-23-2009, 09:04 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

    This is directly related to a post I made the other day as a possible replacement to HISTA.
    Anyone who actually has first hand knowledge of the original TV series knows how intently interested Walt himself was in educating himself as well as the general public through entertainment.
    You very politely write:
    Sadly, much of the educational aspects of the Park have been stripped away (or, in some cases, distorted beyond recognition). But there is still much to learn at the Park.

    So...what have you learned about the world you live in at the Park? What have you learned about history, or technology, or art or culture or nature or science while at Disneyland?

    I assert not so politely that ALL that might be deemed educational HAS been stripped away from the park. With the reopening of Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln at least a hint of that original spirit will be restored, but the era of education at Disneyland is long gone, having been replaced with 'thrill rides' and roller coasters.
    First Visit at the age of 12, July 17, 1968.
    First Ride, The Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad.
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    • #3
      Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

      I like it! It's like a short essay topic, and we write short essays (and long essays) on here all of the time!
      I'll have to think about this one.
      Oo-de-lally!

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      • #4
        Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

        To tell you the truth, growing up in Los Angeles I truly experienced my first "Patriotic" displays, in Main Street U.S.A Disneyland.
        To this day I am moved to tears each time I attend the "Flag Retreat" ceremony. I am sure had I been in some other smaller town, I would have been exposed to more love and honor for this great country that my Grandparents suffered so much to experience but I am thankfull that at least Disneyland can still expose some of the youth to the idea and concept.

        I also learned about how much I love Steam trains and Paddle Ships!
        Thank you Disneyland for keeping this tradition alive as well!

        I learned about real life fantasy and adventure by exploring fantasy land and Tom's Sawyers Island.

        All this and more, thanks to Uncle Walt and his legacy.

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        • #5
          Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

          Walt realized that you can entertain and eduacte at the same time. The Disney Animation attraction in DCA is a great example. So the MIssion Tortilla and the Boudin bakery tour. In DL, it doesn't get any better than Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Walt Disney Story. Even taking a leisurely trip on the DLRR and Monorail are eduacations in nature.
          Adults are only kids grown up, anyway - Walt Disney

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          • #6
            Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

            Disneyland sparked a great interest in future technologies for me, especially space travel. I used to be able to spend hours in Tomorrowland as a kid doing everything from calling relatives in the old telephone booths across from JTIS simply because they had speakerphones (yes, at one point the speakerphone was a futuristic technology), to journeying through the human body as a microscopic particle, to riding the peoplemover and wondering if one day every city and town would have one. But the most educational to me was Mission to Mars. Because of Mission to Mars I am now the Star Trek loving sci-fi geek that I am today. Progressively throughout my young years I would research things like interplanetary space travel, Mars, and of course the concepts of hyper-space.

            I am sad to say that looking back at what I wrote, none of the attractions that I mentioned are in Tomorrowland anymore. What happened??

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            • #7
              Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

              I'm pretty sure I first learned about atoms and molecules from Adventure Thru Inner Space. (I was the only six-year-old at my school who was familiar with the word "electrons.")

              "it's a small world" was my first primer in the nations of the world, their national costumes and architectural styles.

              From America Sings, I learned that American musical genres started with the Old South and cowboy traditions.

              I learned the names of some of the big rivers in the world from the Jungle Cruise.

              The Grand Canyon diorama showed me that there's more to the Southwestern desert than cacti and rattlesnakes.

              I learned a little about native Polynesian religion from the Tiki Room preshow. (And how interesting it was to go back and examine the details on the god statues after I had studied up on world mythology a little more!)

              I learned about the power of theming from the park as a whole. Even now, I'm practically obsessed with theming--themed parties, themed holiday decorations, having my bedsheets match my bathroom towels (they don't...yet).

              A lot of people here have noted that there is less emphasis on education in the park nowadays. That's undoubtedly true...so what changed? Management seems to think the American public doesn't want to learn, that they consider anything educational to be stodgy and joyless. Are they right? Do most Americans resent anything that attempts to teach instead of being pure mindless fun?
              Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

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              • #8
                Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                Steve,
                To be the fly in the ointment... might the changes away from education be a reflection on the priorities of the society as a whole? The 1950's and 1960's are in part known for widespread education reform and the insistence of bettering oneself through hard work, diligence, and education. This notion appeared to peak in the 1970's and 1980's only to come cascading down to where it is today (California's public school system is in serious need of help). If our society does not prize education as it once did? If the public is not as understanding, not willing to learn, can you honestly blame Disney for the change of venue? I often joke that if Jungle Cruise had been built today you would hear how kids "saw Simba" or "laughed at Baloo's dance" or "really liked seeing Tarzan". Everything is tied to a character now... partially because that is what people want, and partially because many in the public need it "dumbed down". This "dumbing down" isn't specific to Disneyland; look at movies, look at books, compare the basic values of 1950's California, or even America as a whole, to today and see where education honestly stands on that list of priorities. People say education is important... but people vote with their wallets.
                "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

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                "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"

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                • #9
                  Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                  There is an aspect to education that does still exist at DL today...the 'spark'. When something, anything is interesting enough that it makes the observer/participant want to go out and find out more about a subject.
                  Whether it's Mr. Lincoln or world culture or nature or rockets; whether it's engineering or Imagineering or gardening; whether it's pirates or architecture or names on windows. There are still so many things to excite a curious mind at Disneyland.
                  Having said that, I am aware that education isn't a goal anymore at DL. But education doesn't bring in guests, certainly not in the numbers required. And fewer people seem to value education in and of itself. Indeed, how often are educated persons referred to as 'elite'?
                  Let's also not forget that those old documents were intended to convince the NY money boys that the park was a worthwhile investment. "Amusement park" was not going to get Walt any funding at all. A new hybrid of amusement park and learning center, where kids and adults both enjoy themselves...that might convince them.
                  We know the spark is still there. The wealth of information on all things Disney indicates that there's a spark about the spark itself :-) Even MiceChat is, in no small part, an offshoot of people's desire to know more about the park.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                    Everything I know about imagination I learned at Disneyland.

                    I think being at Disneyland growing up really sparked my imagination. It was the times between rides or waiting for rides, when my Dad would ask me questions that would build my imagination. I remember when we were there on the opening day for Star Tours and the wait was over 3 hours long. I was 11 and to make the time pass he made me answer his questions. Since we were getting ready to go on a space flight, he made me tell him about the planet we lived on: what it looked like, what it was named, what our house was like, what we were wearing, etc...

                    I could be wrong but I don't think Disneyland was really about education by the time I was old enough, 1982 and up, to remember my trips there.

                    So like most things, it becomes up to parents and individuals to make the experience more because I don't feel that education is high on Disney's priority list anymore.

                    That is why I enjoy reading about Disneyland and then using information I dig up to generate topics and facts to stimulate myself and the people I am with. One afternoon a Matterhorn factoid turned into an alps discussion which turned into a Sound of Music discussion which turned into a World War II debated.

                    It is sad that Disneyland no longer takes the same strides as before to intergrate education into the experience but we can still do things personally to add education to our experience.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                      I think they tried to keep the educational aspect in DCA, right?

                      The bread and tortilla factories, the Golden Dreams film, the farming equipment area thing...and those all worked out wonderfully! Oh wait...

                      I agree with techskip...it's not a priority for guests anymore.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                        When I was growing up, sometimes I would come out with some obscure piece of knowledge outside my usual realm of interest, and my stepfather, shocked, would say, "how did you know that?" And to his great annoyance (and my delight), I would answer Disneyland, or a cartoon, or a Broadway musical (I can name all the U.S. Presidents thanks to Animaniacs, and all the presedential assassins thanks to Stephen Sondheim )

                        In addition to the content and historical/legendary/mythological content of the lands and rides, there's also the interest in how the park was created, leading to learning about art, archetecture, stagecraft, storytelling, landscaping, robotics, etc., etc., etc.

                        I just recently went on Small World again, and I realized just how profound an impact that ride and Mary Blair's brilliant designs had on my own artistic sensibilities.

                        I think the problem is that "fun" and "education" are thought of as two diametrically opposed forces. I don't know how long that concept has been around in our society, but I know a lot of people who would say, "if it's fun, it's not educational, and if it's educational, it's not fun" or who think nothing educational can happen outside the boundaries of a formal school. I think some of the people behind DCA had these principals when they designated the relatively uninventive, un-theme-park-like "educational" films and walk-throughs (Seasons of the Vine, Golden Dreams, Boudin Bakery, Mission Tortilla Factory, and the farm exhibit) and the collection of "fun", shallow amusement park rides at Paradise Pier. It works better if you do both at once, people! That's the true meaning of "synergy!"

                        This goes beyond the Disney theme parks, of course. I recently saw a commercial that said something to the effect of "studies show that having dinner with your kids makes them have better grades." Yeah, that's the reason to spend time with your children - better grades. Because after all, that's all that counts, right Prof. Umbridge?

                        To play devil's advocate though, I did once read a quote by Walt Disney that went, "I would rather entertain, and hope that I have educated, than educate, and hope that I have entertained." Fortunately, he often did both.
                        Last edited by animagusurreal; 09-23-2009, 05:33 PM.
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                        Retro Rant Review of "Home on the Range" (comedy review of Disney movie):
                        Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7mC-...feature=relmfu
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                        Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Vea...feature=relmfu


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                        • #13
                          Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                          I remember being fascinated by the NASA display in Tomorrowland that is now a gift shop. I also remember riding Mission to Mars a few times and learning what a trip there might be like. Like others, I've learned to appreciate the cultures of the world through "it's a small world" and the Lanai outside of the Tiki Room. I learn every time I ride the Columbia and the Mark Twain, and I learned my lifelong love of trains partially from the Disneyland Railroad.

                          It is interesting to see how little Disney emphasizes the educational aspects of the parks anymore. Furthermore in the past they've always treated other cultures with respect. The recent changes to "it's a small world" and the WDW version of the Tiki Room by contrast stomp all over the traditions of other cultures. The Tiki Room at WDW's Magic Kingdom is particularly offensive, in my opinion. They seem to go out of their way to avoid any educational aspect whatsoever.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                            Definitely not as deep as the other posts, but one thing that I have learned from Disneyland is COMMON COURTESY! It amazes me how rules such as staying to one's right when navigating through a crowd, saying "excuse me", or not walking so as to slow up traffic are ignored!

                            When I go, I try to be an exemplary teenager

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                            • #15
                              Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                              For me a lot of what I learned was because of my role as a Jungle Skip... but that was time and energy I invested in myself to improve myself. Disneyland, or more specifically Jungle Cruise, simply provided an outlet for any knowledge I had learned.

                              I think a lot of the "educational power" within the berm is inspiration more then education. It used to inspire individuals. I remember comments from Astronauts who had fond memories of being little kids and coming up on the elevator to the Rocket Jets. I've heard several accounts from zoo keepers and biology experts who dreamed of studying animals because of trips on Jungle or on Mine Train. I know of one physicist who got started on atoms when he was 8 and talked his dad into taking him on ATIS. Others were inspired to go into music, acting, magic, comedy... Disneyland once served as a creative beacon of inspiration in our society. Now... well now you can meet a Disney cartoon character on almost every ride. I think that is what bothers me the most about the park's evolution. It has lost a lot of the unique attractions that once inspired generations.
                              Last edited by techskip; 09-23-2009, 08:16 PM.
                              "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

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                              • #16
                                Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                                What I learned at Disneyland an essay by "Scary" Scott Uribe
                                What I learned at Disneyland Is things about people, Not just historic people like Abraham Lincoln or Davy Crocket nor even places of the future and how transprotation may be in the future but about the facts of how people are just by waiting in line or sitting on a bench or riding a ride. This is my report on people.
                                People dont like to wait in long lines and will cheat the line by any means nessicary including cutting fast passes or pretending not to be a group to get on the single riders line.
                                People also are hungry and will go to a resurant to eat, This is a mistake because people will get angry if the food is not good enough for the price but wont say anything to the person who made it or the people incharge of it but will say it loudly while walking around and will tell friends and family but will still come back to the same place and start the process again and again.
                                People like to ride things that are familiar to them but if it changes they will complain to friends however wont ever make any real protest to the people who made the changes and will pay to see the bad ride again and again.
                                People Dont like to stand in long lines as I have said before and yet they will do so to waste time while waiting for a line to wind down some where else because they have a "place" held for them in another line as noted by a peace of paper.
                                People Like to see exotic places of the past but dont care much for the environment or unique shops they want things that move entertain or can be taken home that has a logo of the place they are visiting.
                                I have also learned that Unique is over rated that is if you are an average guest, that is acording to people who run places, that is people who budget places.
                                Some people like to argue over things little things and make it big things.
                                Some people are cheap but have lots of money and try to cheat the system.
                                Others are poor and will spend more money than people with lots of money.
                                and others just cant afford to go in the first place.
                                Lastly People will pay anything you ask for a name brand!

                                This essay was written by Scott Uribe I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it thank you for your time.
                                I am Scary Scott,
                                Call me a turn coat, a lunatic, loup garou, or skin walker. Shape shifter, lychanthrope, A moon watcher, or just crazy.
                                I am Scary Scott, The steampunk, brony, author of Northern CA, that has just moved to Southern CA!
                                Poor? Yes. Money? Forget about it, I got none! If I had it, I wouldn't for long, I want too much stuff!
                                Disneyland for me is my absolute favorite place on earth, So I am the oddest werewolf you ever will meet.


                                Originally posted by sediment
                                Scary: your post is dripping something. Tastes like sarcasm.
                                Originally posted by Karalora
                                This is excellent news! There are all sorts of good changes to the park that we were promised when Hell froze over.
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                                • #17
                                  Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                                  Was a good read fellow soldier! *salute*

                                  As for me, I have personally learned that I will never take my child, if I ever have one in the future, to the park till I know they can behave and really enjoy and at least remember some of the experience. (the first time you meet a character, see the castle, first ride, etc.)
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                                  • #18
                                    Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                                    Last night was a stunning example of how society has changed. I watched several tv episodes that I used to enjoy and each of them had a see-thru plot. Then I went online and looked up the summer blockbusters... the majority of which had equally see-thru plots. Personally I LOVE things that make me think. It appears society in general no longer shares that interest in learning something new. Either it is dumbed down and force fed or it is rejected entirely in favor of something else that is dumbed down.

                                    This same phenomenon can be seen in the development of most attractions from Tarzan onwards. It is far easier to toss in a known character and say "look at me" then come up with a unique original well thought out attraction with an equally unique story, plot, twist, and finale. Soarin' once regarded as a rebirth of WDI's creativity, IMHO was little more then a fluke. Instead of making DCA "more Californian" and immersing the Guest in unique historical and romantic themes to bring people in... Disney has decided the answer is to spray paint a character on anything in sight. While this pushes the Disney brand, and caters to the "next best thing" it also serves to further dillute the once inspirational brand and further dumb down an audience that no longer appreciates uniqueness.
                                    "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

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                                    "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                                      Great responses all.

                                      I agree particualry with the sentiments of Karalora, BassBone and Snorkletsmom, when they talk about "the spark" that seems to interest them in learning more about a subject.

                                      I've learned so much at DL that it's hard to quantify. Being exposed to Victorian architecture led me to study that era in greater detail; studying the steam pistons on the Mark Twain led to a greater understanding of 1800s steam boats; even studying the details on the Castle helped me understand medieval warfare (those little windows in the turrets that look like crosses? "Loopholes" made so archers could shoot arrows in a lot of directions and still be protected).

                                      But what worries me is that the details that very often led to my later discoveries are disappearing. The mantles that once incandessed in the Main Street gas lamps? Done away with. The lacy and evocative wrought-iron "widow-walks" that crown so many of the Main Street buildings? Removed or backed by view-blocks, which render their "lacy-ness" irrellevant. The accurrate rigging the Columbia once had? Altered to allow Pan to fight Hook.

                                      I still maintain that Disneyland has lots to offer educationally speaking, but it is disappearing at a very rapid rate. While I have praised other theme parks for their food and wares compared to Disney, they had very little in the way of details that inspired me to study a subject further. Disney is fast approaching the "Busch Gardens" model when it comes to things like that. Too bad the food and merchandise is heading in the opposite direction.

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                                      • #20
                                        Re: Everything I know about ___ I learned at Disneyland...

                                        My experience with Disneyland began as the mother of young sons, not as a child myself, and I can tell you that through the years when my sons were growing up and we made our annual family pilgrimmage to Disneyland, the rides, queues, shows, and general atmosphere served as the springboard for many, many discussions on a huge variety of topics.

                                        The Tiki Room was absolutely, positively the inspiration for our family vacation to Tahiti ten years after we first heard the birds sing words and the flowers croon.

                                        The sunken city of Atlantis on the submarine ride served as the impetus for a long and lasting and continuing investigation into lost civilizations.

                                        Catching Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans Square sparked curiosity about that holiday and about the city itself, including its voodoo traditions and Grand Cemetery culture, while a ride on Pirates resulted in more than one school report on the history of pirates!

                                        A ride on the Mark Twain inspired discussion about "Life on the Mississipi," and crawling through the caves of Tom Sawyer Island required explanation as to who Tom and Huck and Injun Joe were, increasing their understanding of literary history - as did discussions of the Brer Rabbit stories which were inspired by a ride on Splash Mountain.

                                        This list is endless. I am sympathetic to the loss of "officially" educational displays (and particularly rue the loss of the submarine ride and its thrilling hints about what secrets lie beneath the unfathomable sea), but opportunities for discussion and further study definitely do still abound.

                                        And as mentioned by one of the posters above, I certainly learned a lot about people at Disneyland - except that my experience is the exact opposite of that described. I'm amazed that people of all ages and of all walks of life and from all parts of the world gather together on a daily basis to enjoy Disneyland, with very little (as I have experienced it) rudeness or stress. I've heard it suggested that the "problems of the world" stem from our being unable to get everybody to agree about ANYTHING; I become filled with hope for world harmony when I consider how many of us agree about DISNEYLAND.

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